May 26, 2022

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5 lessons after F1 test days: Hamilton grumbles, Red Bull and Ferrari impress |  Formula 1

5 lessons after F1 test days: Hamilton grumbles, Red Bull and Ferrari impress | Formula 1

What stable of racing will be center stage this weekend at the start of the new Formula 1 season? Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes also brushed aside the preferred role after the three days of testing in Bahrain, one more convincing than the other. 5 lessons after the last training rounds of the real thing.

1. Mercedes raises suspicion

Facing the Thunder, Lewis Hamilton stepped into the press room on Saturday after his last practice in Bahrain. The seven-time world champion complained that the Mercedes F1 would be difficult to drive.

However, Mercedes still surprised its rivals hard at the start of its testing days in Bahrain. The Silberpfeilen It grabbed all the attention with its ultra-slim sidepods, a drastic update compared to its test days in Barcelona.

The sidewalls are air scoops that provide cooling for the engine. It’s a challenge for engineers to reduce the air resistance of the sidepods as much as possible, without compromising engine cooling.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner admitted: “What they’ve done is innovative. It’s completely different from what we and the others have done.” “But whether this is also a winning concept, time will tell.”

Three days later Lewis Hamilton knew enough. “At the moment I don’t think we are going to fight to win,” grumbled the Briton. “I think everyone can see that we’re not the fastest at the moment.”

But did Lewis Hamilton also have reason to complain? With 384 laps in the desert, Mercedes was the most productive team in Bahrain, without facing major technical problems.

Remarkably, however, Hamilton – who is 103 pole position and one of the best drivers ever to set a fast lap – is not even in the top 10 of the fastest laps in Bahrain. His teammate George Russell had to settle for fifth as fast.

The Mercedes W13 also seems to bounce up and down the long straights. The problem of boar hunting is not solved, the downforce disappears and the car goes off.

“We know there is still a lot of work to do. Challenges that we won’t solve in a week,” Hamilton concluded. Although this has to be taken with a grain of salt in a Mercedes.

Last season, Red Bull made a strong impression in Bahrain, while Mercedes struggled with balance problems. But the first win of the season went to… Lewis Hamilton.

2. Red Bull and Verstappen make a statement

Max Verstappen did not allow himself to be thrown in the eye. The world champion heard a story that “Mercedes is not favourite”.

“If they win the first race, they’ll say, ‘We turned it all over in a week. I have to thank the team and the engineers,'” Verstappen emulated his British rival.

The Dutchman made much less effort to play hide and seek in Bahrain. Red Bull completed the days of testing without any issues, and even came up with an extensive upgrade to the RB 18 on the last day.

A solid improvement, Verstappen seemed to want confirmation on the final day. With the soft tires installed on his car He improved the fastest time on test days twice.

The cheers from the mechanics and the wide smile on Helmut Marko, Red Bull’s advisor, said a lot.

After that, Verstappen went one step further by saying he didn’t even provide “everything”. “But no one pushed too fast,” he added.

So on Saturday we will only have a real answer after qualifying.

3. Ferrari can’t be hidden

Are we going to have a fight between Verstappen and Hamilton, just like last year? No, it seemed almost unanimous in the pit lane in Bahrain. There seems to be a third dog – or rather a dancing stallion – at play.

Ferrari has already made an excellent impression in Barcelona and confirmation followed in Bahrain: the Italians did a great job at Maranello in the winter. Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz consistently scored fast laps.

With a new engine under the hood, the red cars raced around the Bahrain International Circuit. Verstappen and Hamilton also had to admit that Ferrari had clearly taken a step forward.

The Scuderia are one of the most successful teams in F1 history, but they have been waiting for a new world title since 2008. Is 2022 their year? Sainz and Leclerc immediately got rid of this pressure. “We don’t have a lot of confidence yet,” Sainz said. “I really don’t know where everyone stands yet.”

But for other Formula 1 drivers, it’s clear where Ferrari stands: among the top teams.

4. The Resurrection of Hasse

McLaren had technical problems in Bahrain, Alfa Romeo made clear progress compared to Barcelona, ​​Alftawy and Aston Martin also made a good impression.

But no one seems really interested in Haas, last season’s kid. So the American racing stable started the season with great difficulty. Due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it lost its main patron, Uralkali and put aside Nikita Mazepin.

To make matters worse, shipments to Bahrain were delayed, leaving them jobless on the first morning of the test. Bad luck seemed to continue to haunt Haas.

But there was also good news: at first she brought Kevin Magnussen back to the old nest. In addition, Haas was allowed to make up for lost Friday and Saturday mornings.

And Haas seized the opportunity with both hands: Magnussen set the fastest time on Friday and Mick Schumacher had to tolerate only Verstappen on the last day. The German, who completed 85 laps, was barely 5 tenths slower.

Admittedly, Haas has been allowed to take extra rounds in cooler, more favorable conditions, but it still looks a lot more combative than it did in 2021.

5. F1 drivers mainly want to race

The FIA ​​introduced the new rules basically to get more exciting racing again, as it should be possible to drive close to each other again. There were already encouraging signs in Barcelona that the FIA ​​had succeeded in achieving its goal and that was confirmed in Bahrain.

“You still lose downforce when you’re behind another car, but it’s becoming more predictable,” Verstappen said. “You used to lose your grip, now you can control the car better.”

Many drivers have also tested it in Bahrain. Verstappen and Sainz have already had a duel and Alonso and Stroll have also brought some action to the track. This is for the next weekend.

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